I will be listing the top 10 new-generation Nigerian musicians who are currently blazing the trail and making their mark on the music scene. Every generation of Nigerian musicians has come with their own unique style and sound that differentiated them from the pack.
A lot of musicians have cemented their musical legacy by simply being innovative, either by creating a new genre of music or creating a sub-genre. Some have even gone the extra mile by merging different genres together to form a new one.
In the Nigerian music industry, every generation, from boomers to millennials and now gen z, has been fortunate to have stand-out musicians. In the 80s we had the likes of Ebenezer Obey, Fela, Sir. Shina Peters and King Sunny Ade. The 2000s blessed us with pioneers like Lagbaja, 2face, Psquare, Don jazzy, Dbanj, Davido, Burna Boy, and Wizkid. The onus currently falls on the current generations of musicians to carry the torch.
Top 10 new-generation Nigerian musicians in 2021
1. FireboyEmbed from Getty Images
I personally call him the King of the New school. Known for his deep songwriting ability and vocal dexterity, Fireboy is currently one of the best musicians in Nigeria. With two albums to his credit and multiple awards, he has become a force to be reckoned with despite being relatively a newcomer.
Fireboy had his first major breakthrough with his hit single ‘Jealous’ after which he got signed to YBNL records. He released his debut album ‘LTG’ to major critical acclaim and commercial success, the album won the award for Best R&B Album of the year at the Headies Awards. Fireboy broke the sophomore curse with his genre-blending second album titled Apollo, the success of the album further cemented his legacy as one of the best new artists in the country. The album won him the awards for Album of the year, Best pop album and best r&b single at the Headies.
Undoubtedly the hottest female musician in the country right now, Tems debuted in the music scene in 2019 with her hit single ‘Try Me’. The success of the single instantly made her a sensation and one of the most sought-after singers in the country with different musicians seeking her out for collaborations. Her debut e.p ‘For Broken Ears’ put her on the global map while her collaboration with Wizkid on the song ‘Essence’ cemented her in the hearts of music lovers all over the world.
Essence became her first song on the Billboard hot 100 and is currently the first Nigerian single to be certified platinum by the RIAA. Tems has warmed the hearts of people all over the world with her sonorous voice and unique sound, she has received praises from international celebrities like Adele, Rihanna, and Drake who featured her on his latest album ‘Certified Lover Boy’.
The versatile singer, rapper, and songwriter began to make waves in 2019 after releasing his debut EP ‘Rema’. Signed to Mavin Records, the EP peaked at number one on apple music Nigeria. The Afro-rave artist became a sensation amongst the teenage girls who made up the highest percentage of his fanbase with his hit song ‘Dumebi’. Rema has gone on to release several chart-topping singles like Woman, Soundgasm, and Bounce, while in preparation for his debut album. The musician won the award for ‘Next rated artist’ at the Headies and ‘Best New Artist’ at the Soundcity Mvp awards.
4. Omah LayEmbed from Getty Images
The producer turned singer shocked the musical world with his extremely successful debut e.p ‘Get Layd’ in 2020. The artist at that time who was relatively unknown became an overnight success upon the release of the project, with hit songs like ‘Bad Influence, Damn and You’. His sophomore project, ‘What Have We Done’, further established him as one of the best new artists in the country and he won the award for ‘Next rated artist’ at the Headies awards in 2021.
Known for his amazing vocal skills, got his breakthrough into the music industry after being featured on Chocolate city rapper Blaqbonez’s single ‘Mamiwota’ the single became an instant hit that propelled both artists to stardom. Oxlade released his debut EP ‘Oxygen’ in 2020 to much critical acclaim and success. His second EP ‘Eclipse’, was released in 2021 and has also been well received.
Oxlade has collaborated with different musicians in Nigeria and other parts of the country, he has worked with Ghanian rapper Sarkordie, M.I Abaga, Melvito, Reekado Banks amongst many others.
Signed to Chocolate City, the rapper was an underground sensation until his breakthrough in 2019. His single ‘Mamiwota’ featuring Oxlade, propelled him to stardom. He released his first album ‘Bad Boy Blaq’ under the Chocolate City imprint and was an instant success.
He is popularly known on social media apps like Twitter and Instagram for his comical marketing and promotional skits in which he enforces to promote his musical projects. His latest album ‘Sex Over Love’ became his most successful project, reaching number one Apple Nigeria’s top album chart.
7. Ayra Starr
The Young, beautiful and gifted singer became an overnight success after the release of her debut project ‘Ayra Starr’. The 19-year-old singer currently signed to Mavin records released her debut album and second project under the record label in 2021. The album titled ’19 & Dangerous’ shows the young singer-songwriter’s vocal dexterity and songwriting ability, with songs like ‘Beggie Beggie’ and ‘Bloody Samaritan’ becoming instant successes.
Singing sensation Buju previously signed to Burna Boy’s Spaceship records came to the limelight after the release of his hit single Lenu in 2019. In the same year, the singer was nominated for rookie of the year at the Headies awards and won the City People entertainment award for Revelation of the year. Buju’s popularity grew in 2021 after his collaboration with rapper Poe on the song ‘Feeling’ became a hit. He followed up the success of the single with another equally successful single ‘Outside’ and his collaboration on Wizkid’s Made in Lagos deluxe album.
9. Bella Shmurda
The Afrobeats sensation came to the limelight with his single ‘Vision 2020’ but didn’t achieve major success until he released his single ‘Cash App’. The song became an instant hit, though the lyrics of the song were criticized for promoting cyber fraud. The song was nominated for ‘Best street song’ at the Headies Awards and City People entertainment award, winning at the latter. Bella Shmurda replied to his critics with two equally successful singles ‘Rush and World’ in 2021 and released his second project, a sequel to his debut album ‘High Tension’.
Signed to Marlian records, Zinoleesky broke into the limelight with his single ‘Mapariwo’, a subtly delivered, mid-tempo Afropop song that became an instant hit. His follow-up single ‘Kilofeshe’, was also equally successful and one of the best amapiano laced dance hits of 2021.
With this amount of talent currently in the industry, we can definitely say that the future of the Nigerian music industry is very bright.